Sunday, September 27, 2020

How Can I Help My Child with an Eating Disorder?

Graciously re-posted courtesy of

How Can I Help My Child with an Eating Disorder?

Yourhurtingteen.comBy Allison Jupiter, Vice President for iaedp NY

Many times I receive phone calls from parents worried about their child with an eating disorder.  They are often calling to make an appointment for their son or daughter, but are not sure how to best handle the situation.

Below are some supportive techniques parents can keep in mind as their child begins their recovery process from an eating disorder.

  1. Listen and Observe your Child’s Actions- Food is a symptom of other issues.
  2. Avoid Power Struggles over Food- Since food is a symptom of other emotions, when your child does not want to eat or you observe them binging and/ or purging, it often means they are struggling with difficult emotions.  Keep that in mind as you disagree with their child over their eating habits.
  3. Lead by Example- Children learn their eating habits from watching their parents.  If you make comments about others’ bodies or avoid eating dessert for fear of gaining too much weight, that is going to set a standard for your child to follow.
  4. Talk to your Child when you are feeling calm and prepared to talk.  It would be best to avoid speaking when you are in a reactionary place.
  5. When you do try to speak with your child, Speak in “I” statements, such as “I am worried about you,” rather than blaming statements.  These would include “You have an eating disorder.  You need to get help NOW,”  “You are too thin and look scary.”
  6. Look for support services in your area.  The National Eating Disorder Association ( has a list of support services for family members.
  7. Read literature about eating disorders.  I would highly recommend “Surviving and Eating Disorder:  Strategies for Family and Friends” by Michele Siegel, Ph.D., Judith Brisman, Ph.D., and Margot Weinshel, M.S.W.  This book breaks eating disorders into understanding the eating disorder, confronting the problem with family members, and learning new strategies for dealing with family members who are struggling.  It has helped many of my patients’ families better understand the disorder.

How Can I Help My Child with an Eating Disorder?, by Allison Jupiter

This post is published under the permission of Allison Jupiter who is on the board of iaedpNY.

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